Berlin's "Original Unpacked" Supermarket Is Packaging-Free, And Greener Than Green
An exciting new supermarket is coming to Berlin. Its name is Original Unverpackt, and it's entirely packaging-free, replacing boxed or encased everyday grocery items with bulk-bin style shopping. And the market demands, rather than asks, that you bring your own containers to get your shopping done.
It's a very intriguing and exciting model, which will likely rise or fall on customer willingness to accept a bit more burden — keeping your home stocked with reusable mason jars, or jugs, or whatever you want to tote along — in order to do away with a staggering amount of needless waste.
For some goods, like produce or cereal or coffee beans, this process may seem intuitively straightforward. But there's going to be quite a selection, including some things you'd never see outside of a box or bottle otherwise: shampoo, toothpaste, and even diapers will be available, amid some 600 products the store will have on offer.
As a model for environmentally-sustainable reforms to how we all consume, this is a dramatic step further than even what's been codified into law in San Francisco, famously home to some of the America's most assertive sustainability laws. In the bayside city, you're charged 10 cents for each shopping bag the store gives you, to encourage reusable bags instead, and bottled water is banned from sale on any public property. But completely doing away with packaging, such a colossal source of supermarket-related waste, is a revolutionary idea.
And while some people will inevitably be averse to this style of shopping, it does actually allow more consumer control over purchasing portions. With all the store's goods being self-packaged, a shopper need not take any more of anything than they want or need — the serving-size desires of some corporation are no imposition.
Obviously Original Unverpackt, the work of German duo Sara Wolf and Milena Glimbovski, would just be a small step, and it hasn't even opened yet. Moreover, it'd be no doubt an incredibly heavy lift to try to get mainstream culture to accept such a radically different way of buying goods. But everything has to start somewhere, and for this fledgling un-packaged movement, that somewhere looks to be Berlin.